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History of the East Side Gallery
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The East Side Gallery is a special place, where art has become the expression for a unique point in time of the history of a separated Germany.  It is a meeting point that talks about an old Berlin and a new Berlin, a separated and a unified Germany.

Between Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum Bridge) and the Ostbahnhof, along the former borderline that ended at the Spree and Mühlenstrasse, stretches a unique picture palette that marks a sign of overcoming inhumanity.  After the Wall came down in 1989, hundreds of artists from all over the world gathered and transformed the eastside of the Wall that had been untouchable up to now, with their paintings, giving the Wall a new face in a new time.

 

This new face is the East Side Gallery.  The paintings at the East Side Gallery document that time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better and different future that characterized the time of when the Wall came down.  The project developed to an enormous picture wall with its  over 100 paintings, that unfortunately now, 10 years later, is in such a bad condition that you can hardly see the old paintings and the colorful strength they expressed.  

In spite of the gallery being protected,  through the initiative by single artists and supporters of the East Side Gallery and by the historical building code, the images that used to go around the world are now flaking off and the Wall itself is crumbling.  Even though the East Side Gallery is a tourist attraction and welcomed by Berliners, it testifies to the history of the last few years: to a sad handling of our past.  According to 'if you don't see it, you don't think of it', the East Side Gallery gets more and more forgotten, and the quiet hope of some, that it might disappear into the air, seems to become  reality in a certain sense. 

When there was public discussion of its removal , the Wallartists founded the Künstlerinitiative East Side Gallery e.V. (Artists Initiative East Side Gallery), a registered society that fights for the East Side Gallery and its conservation at its original place.
 

The initiative fought successfully.  The East Side Gallery is still at it's original place.  Since then, the initiative tries to create a future for the East Side gallery and to start a lasting restoration .  Over 50 wallartists are the members of the society who's director is the artist and wall painter Alavi. 

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Vaterland       
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Photo on top shows East Side Gallery image in 1990 and same image in 1999. (Click on either photo for enlargement.)  >>>More>>>

 



The only source of funding for the East Side Gallery is through donations and private sponsors.  Only two paintings have been restored and repainted through the initiative of the gallery.  The painting by Günther Schaefer, "Vaterland" (Fatherland), was restored with help of the company LOBA, and the painting by Narendra K. Jain 'Seven Steps to Enlightenment', restored by the historical society Gustrow . That still leaves more than a kilometer for the restoration.  The cost per wall segment {each 1 m} is ca. 3000.-DM 

Besides the restoration and repainting of the gallery, the initiative is working mainly to return the East Side Gallery to the attention of the Berliners and to have it recognized as a spot that could even be in the future an interesting gathering place for and in Berlin.  With its special connection of the past to the present, the art and the historical monument is the East Side Gallery and not a dead spot.  The gallery is a place where in Berlin many ways cross and meet , and from where impulses should and can be coming.

Till now there has been no clear statement from the public side or the government about the future of the gallery.  The initiative has been on the project without any ideological or financial support.  What the East Side Gallery needs in order to have a future is political support and protection, so that private sponsors would invest.  This protection must be given now in this year of the 10th anniversary of the Wall coming down.